>Got one ... how do Russians look to the court case that the victims of the NORD OST theatre hostagetaking have started against the state (or city, what is it?)? Do they agree, or consider it unpatriotic? If they agree, do they think it's any use?
No. I'm sure nobody thinks so. The official TV of course sometimes demonstrates propagandist clips where some "right" Nord-Ost victims (or more often the Kursk crewmen's relatives) say that it is "an offence to the killed people" and so other bullsh*t but IMHO these actions are being conducted in not the strongest way. Seemly the government is not really worried about the trial. At first it is totally perspectiveless. I see no hope even from Strasburg. Then if even Luzhkov (Moscow mayor) is ever be judged (which is absolutely unreal) to pay these 9 million $ he will never pay them because he will say that the total city's budget and Luzhkov himself has no money at all. Our court has no possibilities to force them without the government's help.
Generally the main idea of this trial is not to judge someone but to justice the highest authorities (personally Comrade Putin). That is why it is directed against local Moscow authorities who of course can't response for these terrible events. All this reminds me the same events after Budennovsk (another very famous hostage-taking action of 1995) when our "democratic community" was discussing "who really ordered Alpha to begin their unsuccessful assault". Surprisingly the main guilt person became Inferior Minister Yerin. Despite the facts that Inferior Minister couldn't order anything to Alpha because it is subordinated directly to the President and that Yeltsin himself had ordered "to destroy these scums" in shot of TV cameras and this fragment had been demonstrated over the world. Our "independent media" can forget about such facts when it is necessary for the authorities.
>(Are there reliable opinion polls on any such questions?)
No. Neither reliable nor unreliable. The official and pro-government medias prefer to keep silence about this topic. A couple of opposition Internet sites are very sceptical and express the same opinion I put on higher.
>>how many Westerns read Dostoyevsky's "Crime and Punishment" before visiting Russia to learn the mysterious Russian nature like George Bush did once?
>Would it help him much?
Dostoyevsky is a very specific author. He used to explore "dark images and fears in the depth of a human's soul" may be like Hichkock although with the rather less talent (all his books are SOOO BOOORING, nothing comparable with today American psychilogical thrillers). To say that he shows a Russian soul is the same as to say that Hichkock discover an American one
. As about his "Crime and punishment" - it is his worst work and, as the director of the Dostoyevsky's museam told me, she would never recommend anyone to read it. That was why I was so sorry about Bush when he said that he was reading this crap (or may be he was joking?).
>Or, to ask it in a more interesting (be it perhaps flippant) way: which one book of Russian literature (current or old) would you recommend a Westerner to read if he was to learn about the nature of "the Russian man of today" (man as in human, not as in male)?
Of course it's hard to answer. One author I can remember now is Dovlatov (American citizen once) - very interesting and talented author (altough an alcoholic) who may be known in America. Also a good book is Astolf de Kyustin's "Russia. 1839" This is a never outdated super-bestseller. I will add somebody else if I remember.
Who I don't recommend besides Dostoyevsky is Solzhenitsyn.
>Is there anything we can do to help you better understand America?
To send a cassette with last parts of Homer Simpson
(my favourite American cartoon).
>I believe that you will find a wide cross-section of opinions here at A2K, and most of us can not wait to talk.
Sometimes I may have problems with spare time so don't worry if you don't find my answer immediately.
>In answer to your question, no, I did not read "Crime and Punishment."
You made a very good choice.
>She provided us with the difficulties that Russia is having, and why the conversion from communism to capitalism was a failure.
Is "capitalism" a known term in America (as I remember it was invented by Karl Marx)? I always prefer to say "democratic society" instead of "capitalism".
>What I remember very clearly was this man standing in front of the fruit and vegetable stand crying like a baby. He had probably never seen that much fruit in his whole life and could not believe that were not people fighting each other to buy it.
It must have happened in Gorbachev period of 1985-1991. As for me I still can't forgive to myself that when our school was given a big party of humanitaruian aid from Germany I didn't steal at least one box (although I had got such possibility). I was too young, too naive, too stupid and too honest. So all the aid was stolen by our teachers. The chidren got nothing.